Bodley: Strasburg not an All-Star ... yet
Needs to pay his dues before receiving such a high honor
Stephen Strasburg is arguably the most exciting pitcher in the Major Leagues at the moment.
Baseball fans enthusiastically want to see him throw his 100-mph fastball. Television networks have already altered their schedules to show his games. He's been on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
And there are those who say hands-down that the Nationals' 21-year-old right-hander should go to the All-Star Game on July 13 in Anaheim. MLB.com's Mike Bauman shares this view.
This takes nothing away from Strasburg's spectacular arrival in the Major Leagues. He's been everything and maybe even more than he was predicted to be when drafted No. 1 a year ago out of San Diego State.
But becoming an All-Star after only a few starts?
I don't think so.
My conservatism is showing, but it's a matter of too much too soon. I would like to see him earn a few more stripes before we anoint him a full-fledged All-Star, one of baseball's most prestigious honors. Pay some dues, if you will.
If he's as good as we all think he is and will be, there will be scores of All-Star Games waiting for him.
It's a no-brainer to jump on the Strasburg bandwagon, but I remember when Dwight Gooden, a sensation at the time, arrived with the Mets in 1984 and people were saying he was certain to be in the Hall of Fame.
It didn't happen.
Agreed, the All-Star Game is for the fans, a fun time for baseball to showcase its greatest players. If Strasburg is chosen for the National League team, it would be a tremendous promotional tool for MLB.
He'd be the poster boy for the current widespread influx of young, multi-talented players -- our national pastime's changing of the guard.
Numerous rookies have played in All-Star Games, but in almost every case, they were either with their teams on Opening Day or longer than Strasburg has been.
Strasburg didn't make his debut until June 8 -- more than two months after Opening Day.
He's made just three starts, and is 2-0 with an uncanny 1.86 ERA. He's struck out 32 batters and walked just five over 19 1/3 innings.
His next scheduled start is on Wednesday against Kansas City.
Strasburg should have about three more starts before the All-Star Game.
That means that if he's chosen, he'd have just a total of seven starts in the Major Leagues.
He'd also become the first pitcher to be an All-Star with his big league debut occurring after June 1.
According to Tom Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, Boston's Don Schwall, 25, was in the Majors the shortest length of time before making an All-Star team -- by a day!
Schwall's first game for the Red Sox was on May 21, 1961. As an All-Star, he pitched three innings in relief of starter Jim Bunning at Fenway Park and gave up the NL's only run in a 1-1 tie. There were two All-Star Games that summer; this one was called after nine innings because of rain.
Don Newcombe, 22 at the time, played his first game for the Dodgers on May 20, 1949. He pitched 2 2/3 innings following starter Warren Spahn in the '49 All-Star Game at Ebbets Field. He was the losing pitcher in the AL's 11-7 victory.
The Dodgers' Hideo Nomo debuted on May 2, 1995. He started for the NL and pitched two scoreless innings in the All-Star Game at The Ballpark in Arlington on July 11.
Dontrelle Willis had been with the Marlins since May 9, 2003, when he was chosen for the NL staff that year. He did not pitch in the July 15 game at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, in consultation with MLB, will choose his pitching staff. Manuel will be opposed by his 2009 World Series counterpart, the Yankees' Joe Girardi.
Manuel says that there are so many deserving pitchers in the NL, picking the 13 for his roster will be difficult. He didn't mention Strasburg.
Choosing the starter should be easy. No one has come close to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez, who's 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA, and who pitched a no-hitter earlier this season.
MLB has made a significant change regarding pitchers for this year's game.
Any pitcher selected to the team who starts a regular-season game on the Sunday immediately preceding the Tuesday All-Star Game will not be eligible to pitch and will be replaced on the roster.
This is an excellent modification.
Although I believe Strasburg should have more experience, have more starts in the Major Leagues before becoming an All-Star, I'd agree with him making the team under these circumstances -- as an 11th-hour replacement for a pitcher who starts on July 11, or one who is chosen and cannot perform because of an injury.
Otherwise, Strasburg getting a spot would be unfair to pitchers who've been with their teams the entire season and should be All-Stars.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.